EEL 6938 - Engineering Applications of Autonomous Agents

Spring 2007

Course description

Autonomous operation is a major engineering requirement of many computer systems. Today's computers can outperform humans in executing computations, storing and searching enormous amounts of data or transferring data over various communication protocols. Yet the same computer systems have only limited ability to make decisions, pursue their own goals, assess their health level and other attributes of autonomous behavior.

Exploring the current state of the art of the research into the autonomous behavior of computer systems is the object of this class. As an advanced graduate level class, it will rely on literature in form of journal and conference papers, and requires the students to study and explore various topics on their own.

Instructor: Dr. Lotzi Bölöni
Office: ENGR 3 - 319
Phone: 407-823-2320
Web Site:
The assignments and the other announcements will be posted on the course web site
Classroom: Eng I - 388
Class Hours: Tuesday, Thursday 10:30 - 11:45
Office Hours:
Pre-requisites: EEL 4781 (Computer Networks) or equivalent, EEL 4872 (Engineering Applications of Intelligent Systems) or equivalent.
Recommended readings: As the course will explore research topics which are usually found in journal and conference papers, there is no required textbook for this course, but there is a number of reference books which the students should consider:
  • M. Wooldridge: An Introduction To Multi-Agent Systems
  • A. Omicini, F. Zambonelli, M. Klusch and R. Tolksdorf (eds): Coordination of Internet Agents
  • J. Ferber: Multi-Agent Systems: An Introduction to Distributed Artificial Intelligence.
FEEDS/Tegrity video stream: TBD
Projects: The class requires the students to prepare a major research project in one of the topics explored in the class. The project can be:
-An implemented software project.
-An extensive, critical survey of the literature related to a topic.
Grading: Homework: 30%
Project: 70 %
Standard 90/80/70/60 scale will be used for final grades (curved if necessary)

Goto: Links, Syllabus, Grades

Class project

You have 2 choices for the class project. Suggested project topics and project assignments


Suggested presentation topics - feel free to suggest your own


Lecture Notes, Readings, Homeworks
Jan. 9
-what are agents, the topics to be covered

Jan. 11
-The knowledge level.
-The view of classical AI towards agent building
Jan. 16
Behavioral agent models
-Intelligence without representation
Jan. 18
-Brooks' subsumption architecture
Jan. 23
-Social potential fields
Jan. 25
-Controversies around behavioral approaches and situated cognition
Jan. 30 Decision theoretic models
-Reasoning with probabilities
Feb. 1
-Markov decision processes
Feb. 6
-Partially observable Markov Decision Processes (POMDPs)
Lecture by Majid Ali Khan

Feb. 8
-Reinforcement learning

Feb. 13

Feb. 15

Feb. 20
Belief, desire, intention (BDI) models
-Short introduction to logic.
Homework 1 - due March 20th
Feb. 22

Feb. 27

Mar. 1

Mar. 6
Presentation: 2APL: A practical agent programming language (Cathy Yen)
[ slides ] 2APL
Mar. 8
Presentation: Golog, logic programming language for agents (David Mui)
[ slides ] Golog
Mar. 13
Spring break

Mar. 15
Spring break

Mar. 20
Project preparation discussions
Mar. 22
Presentation: Karl Sim: Evolving Virtual Creatures (Adelein Rodriguez)
[ slides ] Evolving virtual creatures
Mar. 27
Presentation: Steering behaviors in Flocking (Kevin Kelly)
[ slides ] Steering behaviors
Mar. 29
Presentation: Affective computing (Victor Hung)
[ slides ] Affective computing
Apr. 3
Class cancelled. I recommend you to go to the AI faculty and student meeting with Marvin Minsky in Harris Center 202 (10am-12am). Homework 2 - due April 29th
Apr. 5
Presentation: Helbing et al - Simulating dynamical features of escape panic (Alex Turek) [ slides ] Simulating escape panic
Apr. 10
Presentation: Yoav Shoham - Agent Oriented Programming (Lucas Schroeder)
[ slides ] Agent Oriented Programming
Apr. 12
Presentation: Parsons et al - Agents that Reason and Negotiate by Arguing (Malachi Lawson)

Apr. 17
Presentation: Service Oriented Architectures (Benjamin Snively)
[ slides ] Service oriented programming

Apr. 19
Presentation: Managing Social Influences through Argumentation-Based Negotiation (Yi Luo)
[ slides ] Managing social influences

Apr. 29
Projects due

Instructive readings, reflections on research and graduate studies etc